Creatively Assessing

As educators, we are completely involved in delivering high quality lessons to our students, however, teaching good lessons is not enough. Mastery learning must be proved in some way, and this is where assessments come in. There are various types of assessments, some great, others, not so great. Most assessments are geared towards content areas, but what about 21st century skills? How can we assess those? And, are rubrics the best way to assess? These were a few questions I had before researching. After reading, I have answered my questions, and have a much greater understanding of assessment through the lens of creativity and student engagement and ownership.

How are rubrics “squashing creativity”?

According to Grant Wiggins, rubrics “squash creativity” because they are a set of strict guidelines which lead students to the one right answer, which is always the answer the teacher expects. This limits creativity since the only correct answer is the response the teacher wants. He states students feel that rubrics are hamper their creativity rather than encouraging it” (Wiggins, 2012).
This is not to say that rubrics are the next ineffective teaching practice to shy away from, it is to say if rubrics are used, they need to be implemented more effectively. Wiggins states that to increase the student benefit of using rubrics, the teacher must reconsider the criteria, and provide “multiple & varied exemplars” (Wiggins, 2012).

How can we assess creativity?
Almost every time we give an assessment, mastery of the content is the desired outcome. However as educators, we need to make sure we are keeping our students in mind. It is necessary to remember that our students are human beings with feelings and desires, – not just numbers or scores on paper. With that being said, while assessment of all content areas is essential, the assessment of soft skills, such as creativity and collaboration, are equally essential (Gee, 2010).
A way to plan for this is to use a backwards design in which a plan and assessment are created with the end goal in mind. This may even include scaffolded steps to help students reach that goal – at their own pace.
The best way for students to showcase their understanding is to allow them to engage in activities that allow them opportunities to explain, interpret, apply, shift perspective, empathize, and self-assess (Gee, 2010).
As stated in the video Grading with Games, effective assessment and feedback happen constantly. Throughout an entire project, students should be receiving regular feedback and mini-assessments (Gee, 2010).

What can you do in your classroom to better your creative assessment practices?Activities that encourage quality learning are ones that involve a certain degree of complexity. These types of activities require students to think critically, solve problems, and produce a product of some sort. A great example of these types of activities are present in project based learning (PBL) (Isselhardt, 2013).
Project based learning involves student-inquiry as a major approach to problem solving. The role of teachers in PBL are to be facilitator, whereas the roles of students are to be the lead learners, investigators and problem solvers (Isselhardt, 2013).
I plan on using PBL and Maker Projects in my classroom this year. Based on this research, I now know exactly how to assess these projects.




Gee, J. (2010). James Paul Gee on Grading with Games. Retrieved from

Isslehardt, E. (2013, February 11). Creating Schoolwide PBL Aligned to Common Core [Web log comment]. Retrieved from
Wiggins, G. (2012, February 3). On assessing for creativity: yes you can, and yes you should. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from


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